Sisters and Brothers, please join me in welcoming, Missy Ciavarelli from Tempting Sweets. Missy, thank you for answering a few questions from us. In two weekends we're going to have our first feature of her fun creations but today I want us all to just learn more about her. How much will Missy have in common with other chocolate and candy makers I've met at conventions? Let's find out!
This is my second full year at cons. Before that, I spent a couple of years doing mostly craft fairs and the like. But even at those, my sci-fi designs were my best sellers, so I knew it was time to go to the real geeks (and yes, I only use geek as a compliment).
You are a legal assistant but you also a chocolate seller so let's focus on chocolate. What other conventions do you generally attend to sell your chocolate creations?
There is a local series of shows called Oddmall which I just love. Billed as "not your grandma's craft fair," it's an eclectic mix of vendors, cosplaying, and general geekery. I've also been to Steel City Con in Pittsburgh a couple of times and hope to return later this year.
I've traveled as far as Indiana and New Jersey, but prefer to stay a little closer to home.
How did you get into selling chocolate at fan run or other conventions?
I started making it for fun. It wasn't long before someone suggested I try to sell it, so I gave it a shot. My first craft show was pretty small, and I did a lot of those for a while before deciding to make the leap into cons.
How did you come up with the name "Tempting Sweets" for your products?
I have a friend who used to call me "sweets." I thought that translated well into a chocolate business - there's certainly little that is more tempting!
It's pretty much all molded. I've given some thought into expanding beyond that, but I never seem to have enough time.
Not everything I saw from Tempting Sweets had a science fiction, fantasy, or fandom theme but much of it did. Do you vary which products you bring based on the convention?
I have hundreds of molds, for all occasions. For shows that are not specifically geek themed, I tend to go with whatever holiday is nearby. Naturally, I get busier around Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. But I've also worked on designs for birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, etc.
What was the first molded chocolate that you made and what type of chocolate did you use -- white, milk, semi-, dark?
Funny that I can actually remember the first design. I still have it too. It was the shape of a bat, and had a part that could be stuck into cupcakes as a topper. I thought it was a really fun idea for Halloween. Then came the Christmas molds...and the Easter molds...and...
The first type of "chocolate" were those melted wafers you can get at most craft stores. I used a lot of colors then. They're reasonably cheap, and were a good way to start so I could practice my technique, but it's not quality chocolate. Now I use a brand called Merckens, which I get at a local cake and confectionary supply store. I use mostly dark chocolate - it's not only my favorite, but it seems to be other people's as well.
We talked a bit at the convention about how making chocolate to sell has affected your personal enjoyment of chocolate. Would you go into that for our readers a bit?
Because I'm around it so much now (I often have a 50# box of dark chocolate sitting in my kitchen), I find eat far less of it than I used to. I tend toward more salty snacks now. I haven't entirely lost my taste for chocolate, but it's not my go-to snack anymore either.
You don't just make chocolate you also paint your creations and sometimes mix flavors or have fillings. Where you get your supplies for these creations?
I get most of my supplies through a local small business that sells all manner of cake and confectionary supplies. The women who run it are extremely knowledgeable and knew me after just a couple of trips there. If they don't have something I need, I go online. My most popular filling though is a peanut butter mixture and that's just butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar and a little vanilla.
What has been your favorite character to turn into chocolate? Why is that your favorite?
That's tough. Every time I get a new mold, it becomes my new favorite. One of my recent acquisitions was the AT-AT from Star Wars. But I love all my Star Wars molds - I grew up with those movies and I still want to be Princess Leia. So the Millennium Falcon, Yoda, Han Solo in Carbonite, and Death Star are all among my favorites. I'm also a huge Joss Whedon fan so the fact that I can make the Serenity out of chocolate is pretty cool too.
Finally, where will Tempting Sweets be for the rest of the 2016 convention season?
I am on a bit of a hiatus until Fall due to the higher temperatures of summer. Oddmall is expanding to Toledo in October, and returning to Canton in December. I will be at both. Probably a couple of other regional ones as well, but it's still early.
Thank you, Missy, again, for talking with us today. Sisters and Brothers, we're going to look at Tempting Sweets Star Trek and Star Wars themed creations in two separate features this year. You can find Tempting Sweets on Facebook, too! For now, please leave some comments for Missy and let her know you read or ask her other questions.